Rhiannon is currently studying a masters in Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding at University, whilst working as an Advocate on Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response Team. She also volunteers for SOAS Detainee Support – an abolitionist group that advocates for the end of immigration detention.
Joining Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees
I decided to join Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees (BWR) when I moved to London in 2020. Previously, I volunteered for Bath Welcomes Refugees and supported a Syrian family with attending appointments. The family had a young son who had been disabled by the war and they needed support to attend regular appointments at the local hospital. Witnessing the difference that a volunteer can make in the first few months of a family’s resettlement was eye-opening. Navigating the UK health system can be daunting, particularly when someone’s English is limited. Empowering families and watching them shape their future here in the UK is something truly magical.
After visiting Shatila Refugee Camp in February 2019 and having the opportunity to spend a day working with Beit Atfal Assomoud, also known as The National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training (NISCVT), I have researched and investigated how local communities, who have suffered the consequences of violent conflict and are now living in its aftermath, can build relationships with others based on the common factors that link them rather than those that divide them. Refugees in the UK can help all of us to understand the importance of coexistence, and communication with refugees enables us to understand new situations, new cultures, and new ways of encountering others.
English for speakers of another language (ESOL)
My undergraduate degree was in English Literature; a degree chosen because I simply love to read. However, I have now developed a constant desire to read refugee literature in order to gain a more personal perspective on the journeys that asylum seekers endure to reach safety from their own lens rather than those that the west subconsciously projects. Their voices are instrumental and their narratives invaluable. For this reason and the fact that I have a TEFL qualification, I have joined the ESOL team at BWR. I hope to support families in developing their English language so that they too can articulate who they are, where they are from, and to share their unique narratives and skills with us here in the UK and further afield.
Community sponsorship brings individuals from diverse backgrounds together to pursue a common goal – to enhance culturally competent support for refugees resettling in the city. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) provides refugees with pre-departure orientation sessions to prepare them for life in the UK. However, community sponsorship goes beyond cultural adaptation by promoting integration whilst celebrating difference.
We witness this beautiful paradox every day in London, such as through the brunch pop up Mo’s Eggs. Community sponsorship helps people rebuild their lives that have been devastated through no fault of their own. We cannot control the life that we are born into, but we have the ability to change the future. In the UK we are lucky to have been born into a life of relative safety, but we are even luckier to be able to meet and support those less fortunate build upon their dreams. This is what community sponsorship is all about.
You can support us to resettle a refugee family and help them to build a new and sustainable life by donating to our Just Giving page